What is Consent?

"Consent, by definition, means permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. Consent is more than yes or no. It is a dialogue about desires, needs, and level of comfort with different sexual interactions. Healthy sexual interactions are rooted in consent and respect" -National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Consent (described in our Policy as Effective Consent) means words or actions that show a knowing and voluntary agreement to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity. Consent cannot be gained by force, by ignoring or acting in spite of the objections of another, or by taking advantage of the incapacitation of another [...] The use of alcohol or other drugs will never function to excuse behavior that violates this policy. Consent is also absent when the activity in question exceeds the scope of consent previously given. In addition, certain states have designated a minimum age under which a person cannot give consent.

Knowing how to communicate consent is essential during any type of sexual interaction. Here are ways to obtain and maintain consent:

Got Consent?
  • Pay attention to your sexual partner's verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Do not interpret silence as an indication of enjoyment
  • Understand that consent to one sexual act does not imply consent to other sexual acts
  • Understand that if someone is intoxicated, they may have a hard time giving consent
  • If someone is incapacitated, it is impossible for them to give consent
  • In the absence of a verbal "YES," you need to be able to articulate how your partner clearly expressed consent
  • Do not make assumptions about whether or not you have obtained consent